Saturday, March 09, 2024

Face-Lift 1454

Guess the Plot 

Mission Intolerable 

1. The Impossible Missions Team is given their toughest assignment yet: clean the men's bathroom at exit 4 of the New Jersey Turnpike (southbound).

2. Sent back in time to kill Hitler, an assassin discovers that Hitler got a bum rap. He was set up and framed by Winston Churchill. But will assassinating Churchill change history for the better or worse?

3. A Mormon missionary’s pocket guide to overcoming temptation during a global mission. You’ll learn how to spurn loose women in Amsterdam, bring a deviant partner back to the Lord anywhere, keep your magic underwear clean without water, and escape drunken brawls in Satan’s favorite Mexican bars. Includes 700 prayers! 

4.An assassin is assigned to kill a human trafficker but before the assassin succeeds, the trafficker happens to kidnap the assassin's sister. A ticklish situation.

5.  A spoof of a spoof of a spoof of a spoof, which somehow comes around to being an action adventure in a gender-reversed, bedroom farce, every-day-life-taken-to-extremes sort of way. Think Walter Mitty, the psychological novel, not either of the films. 

6. When super spy Ethel Hunter gives up gambling, Lady Luck throws a hissy fit and sics Maxwell's demon on her with orders to enforce Murphy's law, which triggers paranoia in Ethel's entire team while they're trying to aid a defector in preventing WWIII. And then the pixies get involved. 

Original Version 

Dear (Mr./Ms. Agent): 

Based on your interest in (tailored to the agent being queried), I’m excited to share with you MISSION INTOLERABLE, a 75,000-word upmarket suspense novel with romantic elements. Think Luke Jenning's Codename Villanelle series meets the criminal tone found in FIRST LIE WINS by Ashley Elston. 

Liv Ruelle's wolflike instincts and gorgeous smile have made her a valuable assassin capable of seducing the most coldhearted criminal, but she has a problem. After a severe hangover made her miss her mark on her last assignment, compromising her identity, her employer thinks her nightclub habit is an issue and her next job will include a performance review. [It sounds like her last job included a performance review, if her employer knew she had a hangover after a nightclub outing.] Killing leaders of a human trafficking organization in Geneva requires teamwork, and Liv hopes her partner sent to supervise her plays nice. [Normally I wouldn't call a supervisor a partner, as he apparently outranks her. And "plays nice" suggests something more like "doesn't cheat" than "works as a team." Maybe: it requires teamwork, and she hopes her new partner knows this.]

Liv’s new partner Cy treats her like an assistant instead of an equal and expects her to agree with everything he says. Unfortunately for her, he’s hot, and according to protocol, has permission to kill her at his discretion. She can tell he’s attracted to her, but his refusal to respect her process makes them bicker about everything from dinner to the weather, and God forbid they agree on a strategy. [I think "God forbid" isn't right, as it conveys she doesn't want them to agree, when in fact she hopes they'll agree, but believes they never will. You're trying to convey hell will freeze over before they agree on a strategy, or pigs will fly before...]

Liv can think of a hundred ways to kill him but she’d rather stay employed. Needing a break from each other before the mission, Cy lets Liv visit her sister in Paris for a night, if she promises they’ll stay in. They don’t, of course, and their evening ends in disaster when Liv’s sister gets kidnapped from a nightclub by one of her targets. Devastated, Liv hopes Cy will help clean up her mess, because if not, he might just kill her for putting them in such a bad situation. And their assignment has only just begun. 

I'm a wholehearted bookworm who lives in Bellevue, WA. I’ve been a copywriter for nearly a decade, but have been telling stories since I could talk. I currently work full-time as a senior writer and editor for Microsoft. 

Thank you for considering my work!


Some may recognize this as a rewrite of the query in Face-Lift 1360, which was improved and resubmitted here

Liv is in Geneva to kill her targets, but first she makes an unplanned trip to Paris to go to a nightclub with her sister, (even though that's what just got her into trouble) and while she's there, one of her targets, who apparently also traveled from Geneva to Paris, kidnaps her sister from the nightclub? Does this target choose his kidnap victim at random, to traffic her? Too coincidental. But how could he know Liv was assigned to assassinate him? Did Cy tell him? Does he know Liv is out to get him and follow her to Paris and to the nightclub, and kidnap her sister as leverage? If he can do all that, he ought to be able to just kill Liv. Problem solved.

I feel like, at least in the query where you don't have room to explain everything, Liv's sister should just get kidnapped, period. Don't say by her target. This still creates a bad situation, as she wants to rescue her sister, so she can't return to Geneva, which pisses Cy off, especially when Liv asks him to come help her, putting off their mission.

It doesn't feel right that Liv and Cy are working for the good guys, but Cy has permission to kill Liv if he feels like it.


Paul Penna said...

The links in the Notes to previous versions of the query don't go to them, but gets transferred to this:

Evil Editor said...

The links are working for me, so I’m not sure which of us is the problem. If you can’t get there with the links, try searching the blog for”1360”. this brings up the feedback request (twice), the current version, a then the original post.

Anonymous said...

Thank you EE for your feedback and helping me make sense of this query!

Anonymous said...

FYI, doing a search, I get the original 7/2017, and 3 revisions 8/2017, 3/2018, 12/2018, and then this one.
Hey author, I understand revisions can take a while when life comes up, but I do hope you've been working on other projects too rather than endlessly revising this one.

Housekeeping at the end unless the agent/editor specifies otherwise. Or you have a personal connection, like meeting them at a convention where they agreed to look at your work. The idea is to hook them on your story, so lead with that. (i.e. title, genre, and word count are generally boring details. And while schmoozing may put them in a good mood, giving them a story they can sell, which is what they want to know from a query, will put them in a better one.)

I'd think any group, especially any legitimate group, that keeps a pet assassin or 2 or 3 in a modern world isn't going give them a job and then not ask questions. They'd want reports (and details on expenses--is she expected to cover her own?). Also, performance review isn't that big a threat, and that sounds like all that's at stake (up to that point).

The last sentence of the first plot paragraph might do better merged into the second paragraph. It feels disconnected where it currently is.

Thinking of ways to kill him might do better as imagines killing him.

The relationship with her "partner" is somewhat muddled. Why does she need his permission (at all, but also) to go somewhere before (not currently on) a mission? It might do better to describe it along the lines of she's assigned a (hot) 24/7 watch dog until her employers are certain she's not cracking under pressure. Or whatever the situation is.

Agree with EE that it's too much of a coincidence that one of her targets kidnaps the sister. If there's someone leaking info, bring it up.

Hoping someone else will clean up your messes isn't something a strong, confident, capable person does. They deal. You might want to rephrase/rewrite. And either way, it would probably help to give details about where the mc (and partner) plan on going from here.

Their mission hasn't started but their assignment has?

It would also help to clarify/focus on the stakes and what your suspenseful elements are. Her partner might kill her? What's likely to happen to her sister? And if the performance review is likely to get her fired in a carried by six sort of way, that should be stated.

hope this helps,
good luck

CavalierdeNuit said...


Do you have a query posted somewhere I can help you with? Since we're apparently the only two minions commenting now.

I showed you mine...

Anonymous said...


I have a couple of old, bad queries here on projects that didn't go anywhere. You may have already commented on them back in the day. The current projects are in revisions so no new queries yet. Maybe in the next year or two. I'm slow.

CavalierdeNuit said...


That's great! Best of luck with those. And thank you for the feedback!

Seems I need to sum it up better without all the confusing detail.

Also, I left this assassin project alone for a while but have dusted it off. I think it's fun and beta reader feedback has been really positive. I'd like to
give it another go since the market for it is not terribly saturated.

Speaking of other projects, I've found that short stories, or even flash fiction, can generate the best ideas for novels. So can AI!